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Caucus Honors Vin Di Bona ’66, Norman Lear ’44 Drops In

vin dibona giving thumbs up
Vin DiBona ’66 receiving the Caucus Legend Award on March 4.

Emerson College Trustee Vin Di Bona ’66 was honored by the Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors with a Caucus Legend Award at its 38th annual Awards Gala on March 4.

Caucus co-founder Norman Lear ’44, who was recently honored with the Carol Burnett Award during the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards, made a special appearance to kick off the virtual event.

“Let me tell you something about the Caucus. It started with a dozen of us at a Chinese restaurant, actually,” said Lear, recalling the organization’s beginnings. “I could not be prouder of my involvement, from its first days to this very minute.

For more than 40 years, the Caucus has celebrated the creative community and provided an opportunity for the best and the brightest talent to network and voice the “creative conscience” of the TV industry. Through its nonprofit arm, The Caucus Foundation, the organization provides scholarship support, financial grants, and mentoring to a diverse group of talented students, helping them build their futures in all forms of content creation.

Di Bona was presented with the Legend Award by Alfonso Ribeiro, the current host of America’s Funniest Home Videos. The video clip TV series that Di Bona created is currently airing its 31st season and is the longest-running primetime entertainment show in ABC history.

“Vin’s keen sense of comedy and entertainment has kept the show entertaining and kept us all laughing for decades,” said Ribeiro, who spoke about the friendship he has established with Di Bona over the years. “Vin has made a career reflective of his character. His natural goodwill and sense of family are a driving force in how he works with others. Vin’s love of life, family, and a good laugh are the currency he shares with all he comes in contact with.”

During his introduction, Ribeiro also spoke about the many organizations Di Bona is involved with, as well as his support of Emerson College, recalling how Di Bona received the president’s prize for outstanding achievement in broadcasting upon graduation.

“I come to work every day, for the past 50 years, and I really enjoy what I’m doing. I have a good time being in studio. I have a great time in the edit room, in the suite area. I don’t think there’s any other thing I would like to do as a vocation,” said Di Bona during his acceptance speech, which also included stories about his father and a show he produced with Pope John Paul II. “I’ve gone from being very lucky to very blessed.”

Among the attendees was Jack Danca ’21, a Visual and Media Arts major interning at the Montecito Picture Company this semester. Danca was one of 10 Emerson LA students able to attend the gala thanks to the generosity of Trustee Kevin Bright ’76, who sponsored a virtual table at the event.

“I really liked how much attention there was to students, honestly,” said Danca, who moved to LA in January and hopes to become a TV writer one day. “It was still about giving awards to people in the industry, but so many of them talked about the work the Caucus is doing to give money to student films and student projects.”

Other honorees included Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter, Producers of the Year Award; Aaron Sorkin, Writer of the Year Award; Susanne Bier, Director of the Year Award; Marsai Martin, Inaugural Rising Star Award; Gail Katz, Educator of the Year Award; and Jeanne and Tom Townsend, Humanitarian Award. Grey’s Anatomy actor James Pickens Jr. hosted the event.

Nina Dias ’21, an aspiring showrunner who’s interning at the LA division of Women in Film this semester, was able to tune into the show from the East Coast. She enjoyed hearing from the honorees.

“My favorite part was seeing the inspiring, show-stopping, spectacular Marsai Martin give her acceptance speech and be the youngest person by far in the awards show,” said Dias about the 16-year-old honoree who executive produced the film Little at age 13. “Even though the struggle of COVID-19 limited the production of the show, the whole runtime was extremely thought out and interesting to watch.”

“It was a cool event to be part of, even if it was just witnessing,” added Danca.

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